Useful life hacks


Kampung hacks cover image

Many types of grandparents exist: naggy, doting, even “tiger” ones. But they all have something in common – nifty life hacks to solve everyday problems. Whether it’s using newspapers to wipe down windows or washing your hands in a durian husk, our grandparents have a wealth of experiences to share. Here are 8 life hacks we’ve picked up from previous generations which work:


1. Use durian husks to get rid of durian stench and heatiness


Singaporeans love durians – so much so that we even have a building inspired by them. But admittedly, they’re not the nicest smelling fruit out there. On top of that, it can cause “heatiness”.

Durian hacks

You might be surprised to know that the durian itself can help get rid of these issues. For overly heaty people, drinking the water from the durian husk can help eliminate the “heatiness”. As for the much-dreaded durian breath or lingering durian smell on your hands, simply gargle salt water from a durian husk and scrub your hands in the water.


2. Use newspapers to clean mirrors and windows


When cleaning windows and mirrors, old rugs and cloth are usually what we’ll make do with. But many of us have seen our grandparents use newspapers to make these glass surfaces gleam – so shiny that they almost look brand new.

Newspaper to clean windows kampung hack
Simply spray your windows or mirrors with a glass cleaner or vinegar first

It’s cheap and easy, but most importantly, it works like a charm. Unlike rugs and other harsher materials, newspapers are soft and non-abrasive so they won’t leave scratches or streaks. And while newspapers are made from an unassumingly thin material, they prove to be solid and absorbent when it comes to window cleaning – no chance of it breaking apart when wet.

Tip: when cleaning, wipe horizontally first before working your way vertically downwards to avoid unsightly water streaks.


3. Apply toothpaste on minor scalds and burns


Toothpaste for burns hack

We’ve been taught as a kid to put toothpaste on a burn – it’s cooling and helps kill bacteria. A tiny dollop is all you need, before gently spreading it around any minor burn area. While toothpaste works for minor scalds and burns, anything more serious deserves a hospital run.

Toothpaste for burns hack

But just be wary that toothpaste is also made up of harsh chemicals that might prevent burns from cooling down – in worst-case scenarios, it might even seal in harmful bacteria.

All in all? Toothpaste works, but only for minor burns.


4. Use rice when you’re out of glue


Using cooked rice as glue should be an obvious solution given how sticky it is but it isn’t something that’s occurred to us. It’s not known how this came about either – did the previous generations universally find rice sticky enough to be used in place of glue?

Rice as glue hack

But, it works – it’s saved us from a number of “sticky” situations. It doesn’t attract ants nor seep through paper either, and you can even use cooked rice to make a whole jar of rice glue by adding water till you reach your desired consistency.


5. Check if oil is hot enough using a chopstick


Chopstick test kampung hack

If you’ve ever watched your grandparents in the kitchen, it might’ve crossed your mind – why in the world are they sticking a single chopstick in the oil before putting food in? It’s simple: to check if the oil is hot for cooking. If there are gentle bubbles, then it’s time for you to start frying up a storm but if it bubbles vigorously, the oil is far too hot!


6. Rub hard boiled egg on bruises for faster healing


Hard-boiled egg for bruises hack

We’ve all had clumsy moments that result in sore bruises. Some claim rubbing the bruise will help get rid of it faster but honestly, it’s too painful an experience for many.

Hard-boiled egg life hack

One pain-free solution is to rub a warm hard-boiled egg back and forth on the bruise. The older folks believe that the vitamins and proteins from the egg will “transfer” into your skin, which will gradually help heal the bruise. But a more likely reason is that the warmth and pressure from rubbing will increase blood circulation to speed up the healing process.


7. Absorb paint smells using onions


Painting a room gives it a fresh look but unfortunately, a new coat of colour often comes with unpleasant fumes. This might even take days to dissipate. One successful hack that’s been passed down the generations includes cutting up an onion and placing it in any newly-painted room – this helps to neutralise the smell of paint.

Onion life hack

It comes as a surprise since onions are known for their pungent odour. But it works in your favour since the smell of the onions and the paint perfectly neutralise each other. Just remember to throw those onions out after a few hours because they won’t be safe for consumption.


8. Using pandan leaves to ward off cockroaches


As a kid, you probably thought pandan leaves hanging around windows and doors was just a way to store them – until you saw them in weird places like your car or a crack in the wall. Pandan leaves aren’t just great for nasi lemak or curry chicken but they’re also an effective way to get rid of annoying resident pests – cockroaches, in particular.

Pandan leaves life hack

While the scent of pandan leaves makes for a natural air freshener, cockroaches dislike it enough to stay away. It’s an ingenious way to fend off pesky critters, one that would have worked wonders before the age of Baygon.


Life hacks in Singapore


No matter how eccentric our grandparents’ ways may seem to us, there’s no denying they know a thing or two about coming up with quick fixes for life’s tricky little situations.


Grandmother Tongue by Wild Rice


And of course there’s a lot more to appreciate from our grandparents than these clever life hacks. With Wild Rice’s upcoming productions of Grandmother Tonguethis universal story of a young man’s many comic attempts to communicate with his exasperating yet endearing grandma will strike a chord with you.

In light of the recent developments relating to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, Wild Rice regretfully announces that it will be postponing its upcoming productions of Grandmother Tongue. New dates will soon be announced.

Find out more about Grandmother Tongue here


This post was brought to you by Wild Rice.
Photography by Lance Leoh.